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Hoaxes, fabricated stories, and misinformation spread like wildfire on social media sites. Learn how to identify false stories, report hoaxes, correct inaccuracies and #ProtectTheTruth with eight powerful tips.

Media Working Group C2A

67% of American adults get at least some of their news from social media at a time when trust in mainstream media outlets is at an all-time low. In the months just prior to the 2016 election, more people engaged with false stories via Facebook than established news services, and intelligence agencies traced many of these stories to a Russian-backed disruption campaign. Thanks to sharing, the Russian campaign reached the newsfeeds of 126 million people (that’s equivalent to about half the number of Americans who are eligible to vote). Facebook, Twitter, and Google have since issued new policies on advertising and developed “trust indicators” to help users verify the accuracy of articles that appear in their newsfeed. But vetting news and information is as much the responsibility of consumers as those producing it. Every click on a sensationalized headline increases revenue and boosts production of false and misleading stories. That’s why it’s up to all of us to do our due diligence. 

 

NEVER: Share a news story you haven’t read.

ALWAYS: Read news stories from lede to last word before passing it on. It may not be the story you think it is.

 

NEVER: Share a news story from a source you’ve never heard of.

ALWAYS: Make sure the news you consume comes from a trusted source. Need help knowing which news outlets are reputable? Check out our guide to building a diversified press room.

 

NEVER: Share a news story without sniffing for CRAAP.

ALWAYS: Read beyond the headline and apply the CRAAP Test before sharing. Is it CURRENT? Is it RELEVANT? Does the AUTHOR have expertise? Is the story’s ACCURACY supported by research, evidence, and sources? Do you know the story’s PURPOSE?

 

NEVER: Share clickbait.

ALWAYS: Check your impulses! Clickbait is like a carnival barker, tempting you with headlines, questions, or claims that you can’t help but follow. Clickbait has one purpose and one purpose only: to get you to click on it and pad the creator’s wallet! Resist the urge to chase those rabbits down their intriguing little holes, and resist even harder the urge to let us all know what you find down there when you lose your self control. Because you know what? Nobody cares what state you “REALLY belong in”. Nobody.



NEVER: Share or like a meme without checking it for accuracy.

ALWAYS:  Look for sources listed on memes and google any quotes. If the meme doesn’t list sources for its claims, keep on scrolling. You can also check TinEye.com to ensure that the image being used is in proper context, and use fact-checking websites such as Snopes, Factcheck.org, and politifact.com for information accuracy. More fact-checking websites can be found HERE. If you comes across a meme touting false information, report it to Facebook. Instead of sharing the meme itself, share information that debunks it.

 

NEVER: Share or attend an event that does not list a known and trusted host.

ALWAYS: Read through the event information and know who is sponsoring it. If it’s not a group or person you know and trust, it may not be legitimate. Russian operatives have been found to have orchestrated rallies and events designed to bring opposing groups together in an attempt to spark conflict. If you think an event might be a hoax, report it by clicking on the “…” (next to the “Share” button) on the event’s facebook page, then click “Report”.


NEVER: Use the term “fake news.”

ALWAYS: Yeah, yeah, we know this C2A is full of articles and sites that use the term. That just proves our point about why we shouldn’t use it. As the Poynter Institute notes, the phrase-that-shall-not-be-named was weaponized by Trump, and repeating it gives it power and leverage that ultimately undermines faith in the media. Gently remind anyone using the term to instead use descriptors like propaganda, hoax, misinformation, or lie. This includes sites on the internet like Snopes, Factcheck.org, and yes, even the New York Times. Hold everyone accountable.


NEVER: Promote Trumpism by parroting his language.

ALWAYS: Control the narrative! When we repeat Trump’s words, we empower his message. Keep Trumpisms out of your vocabulary and off your social media accounts. No direct quotes, no screencaps of his tweets. Boost only reputable journalism and stay focused on the message you want shared. For more tips on how to effectively resist Trump on social media, check our other fabulous Do This, Not That guide!



ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

A Field Guide to False News And Other Information Disorders

Check to See if You Followed A Fake Russian Account

Test Your False News Radar

Track Russian Influence on Twitter in Real Time

See Examples of Russia’s Disruption Campaign Ads

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